6 Ways Search Marketers Can Capitalize During Holidays & Seasonally

gift-search-enginesMy last three articles have covered all manner of gift-oriented shopping behavior by search engine users. We’ve learned quite a bit, such as:

  • Which product categories see a spike in interest earlier in the run-up to holiday shopping, compared to those where shoppers wait until the last minute.
  • Which product categories people commonly research during the graduation gifting season and back-to-school shopping season.
  • Even though search engines are used less for researching gift shopping during the summer months, there are pockets of high activity.
  • Sometimes product categories don’t see the expected spike in holiday search activity.
  • Savvy online shoppers who look for deals, rebates, promo codes, reviews, and price comparisons elicit different patterns of activity in search engines.

You can find these insights, and many more, in the following posts:

All this begs the question: what can search marketers do to capitalize on these insights?

1. Grab the Low-Hanging Keywords

Now that you know what’s popular during specific gifting seasons, if any of the popular categories correspond to your business, you can simply add the occasions as modifiers to your existing keywords.

If you’re selling on the keyword “video camera,” next spring you should try keywords like “video camera for graduate” or “video camera graduation sale.” It’s a volume opportunity for additional clicks which often will come cheaper than your existing keywords.

2. Be Timely in Your Execution

If you’re a retailer of beauty and personal care products, for example, you’ll expect to see a major growth in gift-related search queries from October to November.

Try building a campaign to go live October 1, with ad copy and landing pages offering October incentives for the early birds looking to buy gifts for the year-end holiday rush. Well before the end of the month, you’ll have a sense of which ads work best, and when the next month begins, you can just swap the word “November” right into the creative.

3. Use PPC Ad Extensions to Your Advantage

In particular, two of Google AdWords’ extensions allow you to put some of these principles to work.

Sitelinks give you the opportunity to drop additional inline links under the primary link in your ad. This way, at the time people are rushing to make a purchase, you can simultaneously inform them of coupons and rebates, complementary goods, and so forth. If certain sitelinks start garnering a strong share of total clicks, then voila, now you know how to adapt ad copy and slant the deck more in their favor.

Seller ratings also speaks to the growing year-end demand for customer service solutions tied to people’s gift purchases. If you’re good enough to get four or five star average ratings, you’ll pre-emptively reinforce your image on the post-sales side of the equation. After all, search marketing is about more than just marketing – making your site visible via search engines is good customer service.

4. Diversify Your Digital Marketing Portfolio Beyond Just Search

Certain categories (e.g., luxury goods, apparel and clothing) experience a yearly decline in gift-related search activity leading up to the holidays. If you’re the type of advertiser that saves half your annual search marketing budget for the holiday season, now might be the time to rethink that strategy and perhaps invest in a more integrated approach.

Spending that money on a social media campaign during the spring/summer, for example, could drive a higher volume of branded search queries come November/December. This in turn can have a number of positive effects: lowering your aggregate search media costs, improving your conversion rates, and improving the revenue stream from supporting non-search channels.

5. Think Competitively

In today’s environment of rising PPC media costs, there is a notable first-mover’s advantage to investing in keywords before the rest of the competition catches on.

If your product category begins its holiday rise in October, why stop there? You’ll always have consumers who start their shopping a month or two (or more) earlier than that. And if you’re bidding on your competitors’ keywords, with ad copy that speaks to a forthcoming gifting occasion, you just might succeed in changing their minds and considering your product.

6. Remember the All-Important, Yearlong Gifting Occasions

These include birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, wedding showers, etc. If you take all your keywords, add the appropriate “gift” modifiers, and stash them in separate campaigns and ad groups, you can learn a thing or two by rotating unique ad copy and landing pages.

Your product might make a great birthday gift, but not so much for other occasions. Or you might find the optimal volume discount on party favors for a wedding shower.

Post Your Challenge

As a parting shot to this series on gifting, if any readers have a specific challenge with understanding gifting behavior, post your challenge in the comments and we’ll see if we can help you find a solution!

Photo credit: smil

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